The Last of the Whampoa Breed

Kobo ebook | July 24, 2012

byPang-yuan Chi, David Der-Wei Wang

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Whampoa Military Academy was China's first modern military institution. For decades the "Spirit of Whampoa" was invoked as the highest praise to all Chinese soldiers who guarded their nation heroically. But of all the battles these soldiers have fought, the most challenging one was the civil war that resulted in the "great divide" of China in the mid-twentieth century. In 1949 the Communists exiled a million soldiers and their families to compounds in Taiwan and cut off communication with mainland China for forty years.

The Last of the Whampoa Breed tells the stories of the exiles written by their descendants, many of whom have become Taiwan's most important authors. The book is an important addition to the vastly underrepresented literature of Taiwan in translation and sheds light on the complex relationship between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China. Western readers will not at first recognize the experiences of these soldiers who were severed from a traditional past only to face unfulfilled promises and uncertain futures. Many of the exiles were doomed to live and die homeless and loveless. Yet these life stories reveal a magnanimous, natural dignity that has transcended prolonged mental suffering. "I Wanted to Go to War" describes the sadly ineffectual, even comic attempts to "recapture the mainland." The old soldier in "Tale of Two Strangers" asks to have his ashes scattered over both the land of his dreams and the island that has sheltered him for forty years.

Some of the stories recount efforts to make peace with life in Taiwan, as in "Valley of Hesitation," and the second generation's struggles to find a place in the native island society as in "The Vanishing Ball" and "In Remembrance of My Buddies from the Military Compound." Narrating the homeland remembered and the homeland in reality, the stories in this book affirm that "we shall not let history be burned to mere ashes."

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Whampoa Military Academy was China's first modern military institution. For decades the "Spirit of Whampoa" was invoked as the highest praise to all Chinese soldiers who guarded their nation heroically. But of all the battles these soldiers have fought, the most challenging one was the civil war that resulted in the "great divide" of C...

Pang-yuan Chi is professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at National Taiwan University and editor-in-chief of Chinese Pen Quarterly. She is the editor of An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Literature and Tears of a Thousand Years.David Der-Wei Wang is associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures at Co...
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:July 24, 2012Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231509057

ISBN - 13:9780231509053

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Faces, Bronze Faces, by SUN Wei-mang / translated by Nicholas KOSS
Shore to Shore, by SANG Pin-zai / translated by Michelle WU
I Wanted to Go to War, by SANG Pin-zai / translated by Nicholas KOSS
The Stone Tablet at the Cove of the Loving Mother, by WANG Yo-hua / translated by Michelle WU
Old Man Yang and His Woman, by LU Chiang / translated by Nancy DU
1,230 Spots, by SHOW Foong / translated by Ching-hsi PERNG
Valley of Hesitation, by LI Yu / translated by Daniel J. BAUER
State Funeral, by BAI Xianyong / translated by the author and Patia YASIN
Tale of Two Strangers, by YUAN Jen / translated by Daniel J. BAUER
The Last of the Whampoa Breed, by TAI Wen-tsai / translated by Michelle WU
My Relatives in Hong Kong, by HSIAO Sa / translated by LOH I-cheng
Spring Hope, by LI Li / translated by CHEN I-djen
The Vanishing Ball, by CHANG Chi-jiang / translated by Kathy CHANG
Epilogue: In Remembrance of My Buddies from the Military Compound, by CHU Tien-hsin / translated by Michelle WU

Editorial Reviews

The year 1949 witnessed the exodus of more than a million Chinese from the mainland to island Taiwan. This collection of stories gives the historic turning point a human face and human voice that is vivid and memorable.